If you’re just starting out, can you tell the difference between student violin vs regular violin? Whether you’re new to violin lessons or just picking it up for fun, you may be wondering about models, price-points, sizes and which instrument is the right fit for you.
Of course cost is a consideration, it should at least be affordable in case the violin isn’t the right instrument for you. But it should also be high quality, so you can truly enjoy playing it.
Is the difference in price, sound or quality?
Other thoughts tend to follow things like – does a beginner violin have to sound terrible? Are student violins any good? Are regular violins more expensive than student violins? And do you have to spend a fortune to get a violin that sounds good?
These are all very common questions, so let’s explore and explain the differences of student violins vs regular violins.
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The Differences in Student Violin Versus Regular Violin
What is a Good Student Violin?
The biggest difference between a student violin and a regular or “professional” quality violin is durability. Professional and better quality intermediate violins are made to last for decades (or even longer).
Student violins are made with the same acoustic principles, so they still sound good, but the wood is often lower quality, not aged as long, and not manufactured as carefully.
This means that student violins will only sound good for a few years, long enough for the beginning violin player to build their skill and techniques before upgrading to a professional instrument.
Student violins are much more affordable, reducing your risk if you decide not to play the violin after all.
Student Violin Examples:
Often sold in sets, student violins come with a case and a bow and other accessories. The assumption is that a student will need all those things, while a professional will want to hand-select those items based on their preferences.
When looking for a good student violin, here are some key steps to follow:
- Do some research on the manufacturer. Look for an experienced company with a good reputation that specializes in violins and orchestral instruments.
A company that pays special attention to the shape and fitting of the bridge, the soundpost placement, spacing of the strings, tuning peg operation, and the string height at the nut. These basic setup elements will make for a better playing and sounding instrument.
- Try the violin for size. A good fit is absolutely crucial for your comfort and success as a violin player. Adult learners have the advantage that they aren’t still growing, so they only need to learn their violin size once, but it makes all the difference.
Even if you are ultimately buying a student violin online, see if there is a retailer near you that will allow you to test and try different violins to find what feels best for your body
- Returns and warranties. Look for a student violin with a good return policy and a warranty. It’s worth paying a little more to get a good warranty for a beginner, because it’s difficult to tell what you need when you are just starting out
Often perceived as more sophisticated instruments, regular violins can fall into both the intermediate and professional categories.
These superior instruments use the highest-quality aged woods, ebony fingerboards, and slow, meticulous techniques to make a violin that will age gracefully.
Examples of Regular Violins:
Can a Cheap Violin Sound Good?
It’s an age old debate: can the skill of a violinist make a cheap violin sound good? For an in-depth exploration of this question, check out this great video from the Online Piano & Violin Tutor:
To an inexperienced listener, a cheap violin may sound just fine. A more experienced listener will notice the quality of the violin. Furthermore, a good violinist can make a cheap instrument sound better, but you can’t make a low-quality violin sound good if the tone simply isn’t there.
However, price and quality in a violin aren’t always the same. There are some very good affordable violins for beginners that don’t sound cheap.
How Much is a Decent Violin?
For a full-sized student violin that sounds good enough to satisfy an adult learner, you should expect to pay around $150-$250.
There are occasionally specials and deals that would allow you to get a decent violin at a lower price than that, but it’s a good starting place for your expectations.
Do Old Violins Sound Better?
There is a dominant myth that old violins sound better. There is a lot of evidence to support this, but it boils down to two primary reasons:
There was a “Golden Age” of violin making in the 18th century in Italy. Stradivari and other Cremonese luthiers created instruments that defined the violin to the present day.
Even now people base their work on those designs and seek to replicate the sound of those instruments.
The best players in the world are the ones who have access to these legendary instruments. Only the most successful and famous violinists get to play these violins.
Not every old violin sounds better
In other words, not every old violin sounds better, and some of that reputation may be attributed to the skill of the violinists who can play these instruments.
It may also simply be the fact that only really good instruments survive to old age: violins that don’t sound very good are discarded earlier.
However, it is also true that the best made violins are designed to sound better over time with proper care.
As the wood ages, its resonant properties change and improve, and the very act of playing a violin improves its sound over time.
Is Violin Hard to Learn?
The violin is one of the most challenging instruments to learn. But it’s also incredibly rewarding, and good violins don’t need to be as old or expensive as you may think.